Polygamy in the Territories. In House of Representatives, June 27, 1856. Mr. MORRILL. Mr. Speaker, I desire to make a report from the Committee on Terri-tories. In whatever mood the hill which I am about to report may be discussed—and I have no idea that it will be discussed in any other than an amiable mood—I trust we shall have a serious vote upon it. I am permitted to say that the preamble to the bill received the unanimous support of the committee, and that there was but one of those present who gave reluctant dissent to the bill. The com-mittee ascertained, from the general notoriety of the facts, and from the admission of the gentlemanly and courteous Delegate from Utah, that certain practices prevail, in at least one of our Territories, which it is very desirable to suppress. The only question of any difficulty seems to be one of power. All admit the imperious necessity of legislation on the subject, and are anxious to find authority for it in the Constitution. Various parts of the Constitu-tion are relied upon. Some are satisfied with the miscellaneous part found in the pre-amble, for the promotion of the "general welfare," under which the United States Bank so long reposed; and others in the arti-cle which protects every State "against invasion and domestic violence," or in the article which declares, "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." Some have suggested that we have the con-trol over the subject under the power to "regulate commerce;" or, at least, that we have the power to punish a breach of the privileges of this House. Without relying upon any of these mooted points, or even that which gives to Congress "power to define and punish offenses against the laws of nations," I would point to the article which gives the power "to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territories." That, I think, is our sufficient warrant.—Those who hold that we have power to ac-quire territory by treaty, must admit that we have the power to govern any such acquisi-tions. The only supposed application of this bill will be over territory acquired by treaty. Those who did not object to the treaty are in no position to object to the bill. But so great is the necessity for some de-cisive legislation, if there any who hesitate, I would say to them, as did Jefferson, at the time Louisiana was acquired, that they should throw themselves on their country"—"cast-ing behind them metaphysical subtilities, and risking themselves like faithful servants." There is no purpose to interfere with the most absolute freedom of religion, nor to intermeddle with the rights of conscience; but the sole design is to punish gross offen-ses, whether in secular or ecclesiastical garb; to prevent practices which outrage the moral sense of the civilized world, and to reach even those “who steal the livery of the court of Heaven to serve the Devil in.". M. WALKER. I rise to a question of or-der. Is this debate in order? The SPEAKER. It is not in order. The gentleman from Vermont can report the bill. Mr. MORRILL, from the Committee on Territories, then reported a bill to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the Ter-ritories of the United Stales, and other pla-ces; which was read a first and second time. Mr. WHEELER. I should like to know what "other places" the bill refers to. Mr. WAKEMAN. I ask that the bill be read. The bill was read. It provides that if any person or persons, being married, and inhab-tants of the Territories of the United States, or other places over which the United States possess exclusive jurisdiction, shall intermar-ry with any person or persons as partners, ac-knowledging the conjugal relation, the form-er husband or wife being still living, he or she so offending shall, on conviction, pay a fine not exceeding $500, and be imprisoned not less than two nor more than five years; provided, that nothing contained in the bill shall apply to any person or persons whose husband or wife shall absent him or herself, one from the other, for a space of five years, one of them not knowing the other to be liv-ing during that time, nor to persons who shall have been legally divorced. Mr. MORRILL. I move that the bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, and be printed. MR. PHELPS. I have no objection to the reference of the bill to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union; but as I understand its provisions, it proposes to legal-ize polygamy when the husband and wife have been seperated for five years, although not divorced. I think it ought to go to the Com-mittee. The question was taken; and Mr. MOR-RILL'S motion was agreed to. Editorial Correspondence of the New York Tribune. Washington, Thursday, June 26. The following is the bill to-day reported to the House by Mr. Morrill of Vermont, to suppress the practice of Polygamy in the Territories of the United States. It caused a decided sensation in the House, but will be pressed to a vote in some shape. I am told that Mr. Bernhisel, the Delegate from Utah, has five wives, and I have heard that they were all at one time in this city; but I thing that must be an error. H. G. A BILL to punish and prevent the practice of Polygamy in the Territories of the Uni-ted States and other places over which the United States have exclusive jurisdic-tion. Whereas, It is admitted that polygamy is permitted by the Municipal regulations of one of the Territories of this Union, and is sought to be justified on the ground that this abomination in a Christian country is a reli-gious rite of the inhabitants of said Terri-tory; and whereas, no principle of self-gov-ernment or citizen sovereignty can require or justify the practice of such moral pollu-tion; therefore, Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of Amer-ica, in Congress assembled, That if any per-son or persons, being married and an inhab-itant of any Territory of the United States or other place over which the United States possess exclusive jurisdiction, shall inter-marry with any person or persons, or cohabit with any person or persons, or live with any persons or persons as partners acknowledg-ing conjugal relations, the former husband or wife being alive, he, she or they so offending shall, on conviction thereof, pay a fine not exceeding $500, and be imprisoned not less than two years nor more than five years; Provided, nevertheless, that this section, or anything therein contained, shall not extend to any person or persons whose husband or wife shall absent him or herself one from the other for the space of five years, the one of them not knowing the other to be living with-in that time, nor to any person or persons who shall be at the time of such marriage divorced by competent authority, or to any person or persons whose former marriage, by sentence of competent authority, shall have been declared void.
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